Behind the Brand: Sander

Welcome to the first edition of Behind the Brand - a series that highlights our employees and the topics within talent acquisition and HR that they are passionate about. In this edition, Sander talks about the importance of taking a step back and thinking about each role in the context of the broader organization.

We’ve always felt that the people are really what makes Amby, Amby.

Which is why we wanted to create our Behind the Brand - a written series that highlights our employees and the topics within talent acquisition and HR that they are passionate about. In this edition, we sat down with Recruitment Consultant, Sander.

Sander holds a MSc in Leadership and Organizational Psychology, Sander is a Recruitment Consultant at Amby. His educational background is in Leadership and Organizational Psychology, and his work experience is mainly with (bigger clients/enterprise clients). In his current role, he is responsible for managing recruitment processes from A-Z for junior to senior roles across tech, IT, and security.



Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? 

My name is Sander Lervik Wang, and I'm a Recruitment Consultant in Amby. I started my education in Business Management at Georgia Southern University, which allowed me broad exposure to areas within business and ultimately helped me narrow down areas of interest. This led me to the Leadership and Organizational Psychology program at BI. I knew I wanted to work closely with people, and classes that covered topics like recruitment, organizational structure, and organizational leadership grabbed my attention.

Since I started in recruitment, I've been drawn to the concept of holistic hiring since it's a practice and mindset that really resonates with my own interests. The benefits of thinking comprehensively about recruitment are continuously understated since singular hires need to be granted sufficient weight in the overall organizational strategy. As I see it, hiring in siloes is one of the most recurring mistakes in recruitment.

How would you define "holistic" hiring?

Holistic hiring means considering how a singular role fits into and complements the broader organization. It's about looking beyond the organization's and team's status quo and considering how each specific hire affects the company's present and future. This involves considering not only the particular skills and responsibilities required for the role but also how the role aligns with the organization's overall mission, goals, and culture.

In the context of recruitment, this means evaluating how the individual filling the role will interact with other teams, contribute to cross-functional projects, and support the organization's strategic objectives. When you break it down, it's about zooming out and thinking about how each role adds long-term value to the company and how each hire's skill set and personality integrate seamlessly with the organization as a whole. It means that you take a step back and spend more time aligning your long-term business strategy and hiring roadmap instead of just thinking about the skills you need this year or quarter.

Why do you think organizations tend to struggle with this? 

When your organizational needs constantly change, it's easy to fall into the trap of hiring roles and skillsets that solve needs here and now. The mentality of "Why take on this cost now, when the status quo will be completely different a year from now?" can be seen across functions, but especially in recruitment.

There tends to be a more reactive and short-term approach to hiring since leadership and hiring managers don't always have the time to consider whether or not their hiring plan anticipates their organization's future needs. Again, they're fighting for talent to solve needs today.

Not only do companies tend to have a "here and now" approach to hiring, but they are often stuck in a traditional - and often siloed - recruitment process where hard skills are prioritized over potential, and departments execute hiring processes independently of each other (despite working cross-functionally in their day-to-day). Furthermore, many companies underestimate the impact a single hire can have on the organization, both the potential benefits and drawbacks of nailing that hire.

You also have to factor in that companies might be reluctant to incorporate a more holistic approach due to a fast-changing business environment and uncertainty about the future. While that argument holds some truth, the flexibility of personnel and structure you achieve through a holistic view of hiring could increase companies' robustness. So, even though thinking longer-term is more resource-intensive since there is a need to establish new processes, a need to incorporate recruitment into an overarching business strategy, and a requirement to analyze the current team and structure, the potential payoff far outweighs the cost.

Another reason companies and departments might be reluctant to implement a more holistic approach is that they're rooted in old routines. "We've always done it this way, and it has worked so far." Those involved in the recruitment process may resist changes to habitual methods, processes, and methodologies, making it difficult to take a step back and rethink your hiring strategy.


What are some of the consequences of thinking about roles in isolation?

Focusing on short-term needs leads to over-indexing on hard skills, which can result in poor cultural fit, high turnover, and lower diversity. Furthermore, when you over-index on hard skills, you also tend to underestimate the potential of a candidate in the hiring process, which can result in hiring candidates who are highly skilled in their current role but who cannot develop into new roles or add long-term value to the company (i.e., the candidate becomes "outdated" rather than growing with you and adapting to shifts in the market - limited, short-term impact)

If there is no overarching plan for where you want to end up, you're likely to end up with a non-optimal organizational structure, where utilization of personnel and skills could be employed more effectively. Additionally, if you're not thinking about how the role fits into the overall team dynamic and future of the company, you might struggle to onboard and create a development plan for new employees. This can eventually lead to them moving on quickly, resulting in high organizational costs.

To understand a role's requirements, you might look at the applicable tasks at hand, competency gaps within the team, or, if it's a replacement hire, the skills of the former employee. Narrowing down the candidate pool based on these criteria can provide positive results in the short term while systematically forcing your team to think more strategically.

That said, the benefit of thinking about roles in the context of the entire organization is that you hire candidates who are more tailored to your organizational dynamics and are better suited to grow alongside your long-term strategy. Hiring in the context of others forces you to focus on potential and adaptability, which allows you to future-proof your team against market shifts and mitigates the risk of future restructuring due to over-hiring.

How do you think about holistic hiring in your day-to-day?

With our embedded recruitment model, Amby consultants can deeply understand an organization's culture, values, and goals—even the implicit or "unspoken" ones.

By working in the exact environment we are recruiting for, we are allowed insights beyond the hard skills and can hire based on a more comprehensive understanding of the organization.

This gives us an increased understanding of each team's strengths, weaknesses, and dynamics. We can challenge and advise hiring managers on what they want in candidates and put each hire into perspective of the bigger picture.

From an internal perspective, we convey the same message to current employees and candidates alike. This forces us to think about who we are, what we do, and what we want to accomplish. We can then use the answers to these questions to create a cohesive narrative—a "one story for all" that we use to advise hiring managers through the hiring process. This starts within teams and departments and later moves externally to candidates.


What can companies do to avoid thinking about roles in isolation?

To transition to a more holistic approach, you have to know when your team and/or organization is ready to recruit. This requires a thorough analysis of where the organization is, where you want to go, and how you can get there.

It's also about shifting your venality around recruitment's role in your overall strategy. It's not enough to turn to your talent team when you need to current needs. It's about thinking more about how you can involve them in your overall strategy and how you will think through how this role (and the next one) will solve longer-term needs, how they will develop within our organization, and how that development will contribute to your goals.

In addition to skills, consider how this hire (and what they will accomplish) will complement the team they'll be a part of from a personality point of view. Then, go a step further and consider how this role will work with other teams/departments/skill sets. The entirety of the team and organization should always be at the forefront of hiring.

Another aspect of transferring to a holistic approach in workforce planning regards anticipating the market and preparing for uncertainty. Knowing there will be unforeseen developments in the external environment and hiring based on this notion. Understanding the value of a diverse skill set, team composition, and organizational structure and using this obtained flexibility as a response to unexpected changes.

More tactically, using personality and ability tests in the recruitment process can be incredibly beneficial for assessing both hard skills and personality. It can also serve as a good reminder to think about potential since these tests can also measure openness and willingness to learn, which are equally important as hard skills when it comes to thinking long-term about your next hire.

Finally - and more strategically - consider the importance of having a shared set of values and plans within the organization. A concrete message communicated internally and externally explains to relevant stakeholders who they are, what they want, and how they will accomplish set goals. This enables a sense of cohesiveness in the organization through a clear, common goal and eases recruitment planning and hiring decisions.

Sander's Picks

If you want to go even deeper into holistic hiring, here are a few resources that I think are a great place to start!

Author profile Sander Lervik Wang

Sander joined Amby in 2022 after completing his MSc in Leadership and Organizational Psychology from BI Norwegian Business School.